Friday, May 6, 2016

Series Preview: Braves v Arizona May 6-8, 2016

We're past the first month of the MLB season, so it's time I start looking at some standings. The Braves are a robust 7-20, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are 12-18. Obviously, it's a clash of the Titans here in Turner field this weekend. I expect attendance to be low, with the variable that the nice weather probably attracts a few people interested in sitting outdoors. On to the matchups!

Game 1 - Blair v. Greinke
Game 2 - Teheran v. Miller
Game 3 - Foltynewicz v. Corbin

Obviously the game that stands out is the Game 2 matchup between Julio and Shelby. The shocker of the season has been how awful Shelby Miller pitched in his early outings. He's sporting an 8.97 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP, and an opposing average of .287 so far. That's wretched. Those are worse than or equal to Bud Norris type numbers, and he's about to get cut. I can only imagine this is happening because Shelby is really grinding, trying to prove he was worth the ridiculous trade Arizona made for him. But even if he wins the Cy Young this year, I don't think the trade will ever balance. The Braves fleeced Arizona and now Shelby is mentally a wreck. Julio is coming off his best outing in probably 2-3 years. Given that Shelby is struggling, that's a must-win game for the Braves if there ever was one.

Why have the Diamondbacks struggled? I can tell you right now it has nothing to do with hitting. The Dbacks have 7 hitters with OPS over .800 while the Braves only have...uhhhhhhhhhhh...wait, we have none. WE HAVE NO GUYS OVER .800 IN OPS? Good lord, this season. I'm amazed daily when I look at the statistics on this freakshow.

Back to why the Dbacks have sucked. It's not hitting. It's pitching. Obviously, Shelby has been bad, but it goes way deeper than that. Greinke was 2nd in the Cy Young voting last season, and he won it in 2009. He went to the Diamondbacks on a MASSIVE contract for over $200M. And yet, like Mr. Miller, his early season is a complete disaster. Greinke has a 5.50 ERA, a 1.49 WHIP, and a opp avg of .303 with only 32 Ks in six games. Plus his homers per 9 are way up (1.2) which is an even bigger issue. Then you look at Pat Corbin who is the "best" pitcher you'll see this weekend, and he's at a 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and .275 opp avg with 2 homers per 9, and almost 3 walks per 9.

Normally I'd be looking at those homer problems and salivating. But the Braves can't hit homers right now, which plays into a struggling pitcher's hands. He can make mistakes and they'll stay in the ballpark. Plus, he's got about 7 sticks behind him to score runs. What looks like an easy game on paper could turn into a slugfest inside the Ted, and the Braves haven't won any slugfests yet. We'll see which Blair shows up, because this is a tough test for the young rookie. Also, can Julio put it at 3 in a row? I'm not sure yet. Folty hasn't proven he belongs yet, so this is another shot for him to showcase his stuff.

CPA Predictions:

The CPA went 2-1 on the Mets series, 15-10 now on the season. Let's see how it thinks this series will go.

Game 1 - Braves by 1
Game 2 - Braves by 2
Game 3 - Arizona by 4

The CPA thinks the Braves win a series at home. I'm as shocked as you. Maybe with all the tougher teams behind us, it's ready to give the Braves some credit. I hope it's right.


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